Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Who is responsible for the revival of British fashion?


Professor Louise Wilson, at Central St Martins, that's who


Wilson, 45, has run London's Central Saint Martins fashion MA since 1994. Even given its exalted history - alumni include Alexander McQueen, Sophia Kokosalaki and Jonathan Saunders - she's on a roll. Of the designers in this month's London Fashion Week, more than a third - Giles Deacon, Christopher Kane and Luella Bartley included - are ex-pupils; a remarkable number from one tutor.

With Wilson's exclusively black wardrobe, fondness for foul-mouthed tirades and methodology described as everything from "exacting" to "fascistic", her reputation precedes her. "If someone spoke to me like I speak to the students, I don't know what I'd do." The former Donna Karan designer, who herself studied at Saint Martins under Ossie Clark, says getting students into LFW isn't the remit of the course. Nurturing individuality is.

"If you murdered somebody and went to prison for 12 years, you'd get a social worker to help you re-enter society. When my students come to me they've been in education since they were five, and they're damaged. Damaged by a system of not thinking for themselves."

Talking to Wilson, it's clear that she loves her job, really - she even refused time off to recover from breast cancer. "Is that why people hold me in regard? Because I was a sad fucker who gave up my whole social life?"

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